Tuesday, December 20, 2011

transcendentalism - book - 1981 - Transcendentalism as a Social Movement, 1830-1850

Transcendentalism as a Social Movement, 1830-1850
Anne C. Rose
Yale University Press
1981
269 pages


A good day to you.  I purchased Transcendentalism as a Social Movement from Seekers Books in Toronto’s Annex neighborhood.


There are scores of books about the American Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century.  The Transcendentalists were a group of poets and thinkers that orbited around Ralph Waldo Emmerson, the essayist son of a Unitarian minister who combined socialist political ideals with pantheistic spirituality.  The Transcendentalists included Margaret Fuller, a proto-feminist journalist, and Henry David Thoreau, one of the best known American philosophers whose book Walden, the author’s edited journal about the experience of living simply and close to nature, is still cited by all varieties of social drop-outs (it’s mentioned as a favorite book of one of Jennifer Toth’s Mole People, for example) while his essay Civil Disobedience continues to be quoted by political dissidents on all points of the left-right spectrum.  Most of the existing books on the Transcendentalists approach the movement as a literary or philosophical school.  In Transcendentalism as a Social Movement, historian Anne C. Rose takes the much less common approach to the group as a social movement that was intent on developing new ways of living.


Anne C. Rose is currently a distinguished professor at Penn State University (America’s #1 party school according to a 2009 episode of This American Life).  She is a historian of American culture who works in Penn State’s Department of History and Religious studies, and although she has a long and varied publishing record, most of her research has focused on the history of psychiatry or on American religious practice.  Transcendentalism as a Social Movement was Rose’s first book, and according to her preface, it began as her doctoral dissertation.  Rose thus focuses on Transcendentalism as a spiritual and socialist movement in the American context, emerging from a milieu of progressive churches and religious communities operating in and nearby to Boston Massachusetts, during the early-to-mid 19th century.


Rose’s book begins with a discussion of these churches, and in particular the emergence of Unitarianism in Boston during the late 18th century.  Unitarianism is a belief system that became popular in Boston during the early 19th century that considers God to be a single entity, thereby denying the divinity of Jesus.  Christ is an exemplar of moral behavior but is not a divine authority, and individuals may exercise their free will, ideally in emulation of Christ’s model.  Unitarianism also resists the idea that any church may claim authority over interpreting the Bible.  Rose discusses in depth the fluctuations in popularity of the Unitarian Churches in Boston that provided citizens with a greater spiritual freedom than the Protestant churches that dominated the region.


Rose discusses Unitarianism as a means of introducing the cultural climate that Transcendentalism developed in.  While Unitarianism never claimed a majority of worshippers, its popularity did give rise to a number of spiritual debates at the time, plus it demonstrated the possibility for alternatives to the Protestant church.  Transcendentalism developed as the most radical of all the alternatives, as a mixture of Romantic poetry, pantheistic Christianity, and pre-Marxist political socialism vis-a-vis the ideas of Charles Fourier.  Because Rose’s text is focused on the group as a social, rather than literary or spiritual, movement, many of the chapters are about those members who were most socially active (and therefore not Henry David Thoreau).  Rose includes profiles of the most socially significant Transcendentalists, including men like George Ripley, who left little writing but was a unique Unitarian minister whose involvement with the Transcendentalists led him to found Brook Farm (a Transcendentalist farm collective that Rose discussed at length) with his wife Sophia Ripley.  Elizabeth Peabody is another of the Transcendentalists discussed at length by Rose, whose work was primarily focused on new ideas in education and the domestic sphere.  These individuals were engaged with reforming the social sphere in accordance with recently emergent ideas about liberal spirituality.  Much of the book is about the social activism of these figures and their fight against slavery or the subjugation of women.
 

Rose’s book is a comprehensive look at the Transcendentalists on an axis other than the literary.  Rose’s analysis of the cultural milieu that the Transcendentalists grew out of as social activists is fascinating.  The historical analysis of Brook Farm brings the Transcendentalists onto similar spiritual-social ground as the religious groups discussed in The Communistic Societies of the United States by Charles Nordhoff.  Rose’s book also contains appendices which provide tabled details about Unitarian churches in Boston, and about the Brook Farm collective.  Finally, Rose contains a comprehensive bibliography which organizes texts by Transcendentalists according to their activist causes, which is a useful tool for further research on the Transcendentalists or on the activist rhetoric of certain subjects.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Labels

united states (47) 1990s (19) history (19) 1960s (18) 1980s (15) anarchism (14) 2000s (13) outlaw bikers (12) 1970s (11) Canada (11) memoir (11) civil rights movement (10) documentary film (10) zines (9) 19th century (7) 20th century (7) film (7) new york city (7) 1950s (6) black panther party (6) essays (6) hells angels (6) irish republican army (6) science-fiction (6) street art (6) 1940s (5) anti-globalization (5) beats (5) computer hackers (5) exhibition catalog (5) graffiti (5) homeless (5) international (5) journalism (5) labour strike (5) organized labour (5) the troubles (5) England (4) France (4) biographical drama (4) communalism (4) dada (4) drama (4) hippies (4) malcolm x (4) occupy wall street (4) provisional IRA (4) psychedelia (4) punk (4) sncc (4) surrealism (4) survivalism (4) transcendentalism (4) white nationalism (4) 1920s (3) 1930s (3) 2010s (3) 4chan (3) BBSs (3) Emma Goldman (3) Europe (3) Karl Marx (3) United Kingdom (3) anarcho-primitivism (3) anonymous (3) anthology (3) anti-civilization (3) banksy (3) critique (3) david graeber (3) direct action (3) hacker groups (3) hacking (3) interviews (3) journalistic (3) ku klux klan (3) labour (3) martin luther king jr (3) mongols (3) quebec (3) radical right (3) situationism (3) student movement (3) vagabonds (3) white supremacy (3) william s burroughs (3) /b/ (2) 1910s (2) 1981 Hunger Strikes (2) AFL-CIO (2) Alexander Berkman (2) American South (2) American revolution (2) Andre Breton (2) Australia (2) Cromwell (2) English Revolution (2) Fidel Castro (2) Germany (2) Greece (2) IWW (2) Levellers (2) Marcel Duchamp (2) Max Ernst (2) Mikhail Bakunin (2) Montreal (2) NAACP (2) Peter Kropotkin (2) Portland Oregon (2) Ranters (2) Robin Hood (2) Salvador Dali (2) Southern Poverty Law Center (2) Texas (2) Toronto (2) action film (2) anarcho-syndicalism (2) anti-capitalism (2) anti-war (2) anti-war movements (2) article (2) aryan nations (2) avant-garde (2) biography (2) blek le rat (2) brook farm (2) crime drama (2) critical mass (2) cults (2) cultural criticism (2) david duke (2) design (2) diary (2) dishwasher pete (2) east bay dragons (2) eldridge cleaver (2) environmentalism (2) fan fiction (2) gerry adams (2) historical drama (2) historical survey (2) hobos (2) how to guide (2) indigenous struggle (2) internet memes (2) ireland (2) jared taylor (2) john waters (2) john zerzan (2) julian assange (2) keith haring (2) mail art (2) media criticism (2) mohawk warriors (2) mole people (2) murray bookchin (2) mysticism (2) nativism (2) new age (2) nomadism (2) northern ireland (2) novel (2) occupy movement (2) official IRA (2) oka crisis (2) operation black rain (2) oral history (2) paranoia (2) paul goodman (2) philip k dick (2) philosophy (2) phone losers of america (2) phreaks (2) piracy (2) posse comitatus (2) prank phone calls (2) primary source (2) reader (2) revolution (2) sabotage (2) self-publishing (2) shepard fairey (2) sociology (2) spain (2) street gangs (2) terrorism (2) the order (2) tristan tzara (2) true crime (2) txt files (2) ulrike meinhof (2) underground media (2) unorganized militias (2) 1%ers (1) 17th century (1) 1900s (1) 1969 (1) 1970 (1) 1972 Bloody Sunday (1) 2009 (1) 2011 (1) 2600 Magazine (1) Alberta (1) Alexandros Grigoropoulos (1) Amsterdam (1) Arab Spring (1) Arthur Segal (1) Athens (1) Baltimore (1) Ben Reitman (1) Bethel (1) Bill Haywood (1) Brad Carter (1) Brendan Hughes (1) Burners (1) Burning Man (1) Captain Mission (1) Cass Pennant (1) Charles Fourier (1) Chartists (1) Che Guavara (1) Christopher Hill (1) Christopher Street Liberation Day (1) Columbia University (1) Darkthrone (1) David Ervine (1) Dead (1) December 2008 riots (1) Derrick Jensen (1) Dial (1) Diggers (1) Diggers (1650s) (1) Dorothea Tanning (1) Drop City (1) E.D. Nixon (1) East Side White Pride (1) Egypt (1) Emiliano Zapata (1) Emory Douglas (1) Emperor (1) Eric Hobsbawm (1) Eugene V. Debs (1) Exarchia (1) FLQ (1) Factory Records (1) Fenriz (1) French Revolution (1) GLBT rights (1) Gandhi (1) Gay Activist Alliance (1) Geert Lovink (1) George Washington (1) Georges Janco (1) Groote Keyser (1) Harlem (1) Haymarket Bombing (1) Henry David Thoreau (1) Hillel (1) Ho-Chi Minh (1) Hunter S Thompson (1) Hunter S. Thompson (1) Idaho (1) India (1) Indignados (1) Inter City Firm (1) Irish national liberation army (1) Isidore Isou (1) Jack Cade (1) Jeff Ferrell (1) John Humphrey Noyes (1) Joy Division (1) Kemal Ataturk (1) King Alfred (1) Konstantina Kuneva (1) LETS system (1) Labor Party (1) Lenin (1) Leonora Carrington (1) Lettrisme (1) Libertatia (1) Louis Aragorn (1) Luddites (1) Madagascar (1) Mafiaboy (1) Maine (1) Manchester (1) Mao Tse-Tung (1) Marcel Janco (1) Margaret Fuller (1) Mark Rudd (1) Martin McGuinnes (1) Mayhem (1) Michigan Milita (1) Moncton (1) Montgomery Bus Boycott (1) Morris Dees (1) Movement Resource Group (1) Mulugeta Seraw (1) National Film Board (1) Ned Kelly (1) Netherlands (1) New Brunswick (1) Norway (1) OK Crackers (1) Occupy Homes (1) Oneida Community (1) Ontario (1) Oscar Wilde (1) Oslo (1) Palestinian nationalism (1) Patrick Henry (1) Paul Eluard (1) People's Kitchen (1) Phalanx Communities (1) Phillipe Soupault (1) Process Church (1) Quakers (1) Randy Weaver (1) Raoul Vaneigem (1) Rene Magritte (1) Robespierre (1) Robiespierre (1) Romania (1) Rosa Parks (1) Rubell Collection (1) Ruby Ridge (1) Russian Revolution (1) Sacco and Vanzetti (1) Samuel Gompers (1) Sinn Fein (1) Situationist International (1) Society for a Democratic Society (1) Sojourners for Truth and Justice (1) Staughton Lynd (1) Surrealists (1) Switzerland (1) T.A.Z. (1) The Rebels (Canada) (1) Thessaloniki (1) Thomas Paine (1) Timothy McVey (1) Tobie Gene Levingston (1) Tom Metzger (1) Toronto Video Activist Collective (1) Tunisia (1) UVF (1) Ulster Volunteer Force (1) University of Moncton (1) Varg Vikernes (1) WWII (1) Walt Whitman (1) White Citizen's Council (1) Wisconsin (1) Workers' Party of Ireland (1) Yes Men (1) Yolanda Lopez (1) Zurich (1) abbie hoffman (1) acadian nationalism (1) amana (1) american renaissance (1) anarcho-communism (1) andreas baader (1) animal liberation (1) anti-consumerism (1) anti-rent movement (1) arcades (1) arizona (1) art book (1) art history (1) art strike (1) assata shakur (1) atf (1) automatic writing (1) bandidos (1) bandidos motorcycle club (1) bandits (1) bartering (1) bay area (1) bertrand russell (1) bicycles (1) biker church (1) bikies (1) black flag (1) black metal (1) black power (1) black radicalism (1) bob black (1) bob flanagan (1) bobby seale (1) bryon gysin (1) caledonia conflict (1) cats (1) chicago 68 (1) chicago 8 trial (1) children's book (1) chris carlsson (1) chris kraus (1) church of life after shopping (1) church of stop shopping (1) civil disobedience (1) comedy (1) comic book (1) commune (1) communism (1) confidential informants (1) conscientious objectiors (1) contemporary (1) cope2 (1) core (1) correspondence (1) crimethinc ex-workers collective (1) critque (1) crossmaglen (1) cult of the dead cow (1) cultural theory (1) culture jamming (1) cybercrime (1) cycling (1) daniel domscheit-berg (1) david dellinger (1) david watson (1) debbie goad (1) decollage (1) dishwashing (1) donn teal (1) drag (1) drugs (1) dumpster diving (1) dwelling portably (1) ed moloney (1) education (1) educational (1) elliot tiber (1) emmet grogan (1) environmental movement (1) errico malatesta (1) ethnography (1) fanzines (1) fay stender (1) feminism (1) folklore (1) football hooligans (1) front du liberation du quebec (1) gay pride (1) general strike (1) george jackson (1) georges bataille (1) gerard lebovici (1) gnostic (1) graffiti research lab (1) guerrilla filmmaking (1) guide (1) guy debord (1) guy fawkes (1) hakim bey (1) hans kok (1) harmonists (1) huey newton (1) humour (1) icarians (1) illegal immigration (1) immigration movement (1) independence movement (1) industrial workers of the world (1) inspirationalists (1) insurrection (1) islamophobia (1) italy (1) jack kerouac (1) jay dobyns (1) jean baudrillard (1) jean-michel basquiat (1) jerry adams (1) jerry rubin (1) joe david (1) johann most (1) john birch movement (1) john cage (1) john lewis (1) judith sulpine (1) kathy acker (1) keffo (1) ken kesey (1) kenneth rexroth (1) know-nothings (1) lady pink (1) language rights (1) lifestyle anarchism (1) london (1) london ont (1) long kesh (1) manifesto (1) martha cooper (1) marxism (1) masculinity (1) matthew hale (1) max yasgur (1) may day (1) medgar evers (1) merry pranksters (1) mexican mafia (1) michael hart (1) michael lang (1) micro-currency (1) microcosm publishing (1) mini-series (1) miss van (1) mlk (1) mockumentary (1) mods and rockers (1) moot (1) musical (1) nation of islam (1) national vanguard (1) native american party (1) neal cassady (1) neo-confederacy (1) neoconservatism (1) neoism (1) new left (1) noam chomsky (1) nolympics (1) non-violence (1) nonsense (1) notes from nowhere (1) obey giant (1) occupy london (1) occupy oakland (1) october crisis (1) oral biography (1) pacifism (1) parecon (1) peasant rebellion (1) perfectionists (1) photobook (1) photomontage (1) pirate utopias (1) poachers (1) polemic (1) police brutality (1) popular uprisings (1) portland (1) post-WWII (1) prank (1) protest (1) radical art (1) radical left (1) ralph waldo emmerson (1) real IRA (1) red army faction (1) regis debray (1) retort (periodical) (1) reverend billy (1) rock machine (1) ruben "doc" cavazos (1) san francisco (1) scavenging (1) script kiddies (1) scrounging (1) secession (1) second vermont republic (1) self-published (1) semiotext(e) (1) sexual politics (1) shakers (1) shedden massacre (1) short stories (1) simulation (1) slab murphy (1) slave revolt (1) snake mound occupation (1) social ecology (1) socialism (1) solo angeles (1) sonny barger (1) south armagh (1) spirituality (1) squatting (1) stage performance (1) stencil graffiti (1) stewart home (1) sticker art (1) stokley charmicael (1) stokley charmichael (1) stonewall riots (1) straight-edge (1) street theater (1) student protest (1) subgenius (1) survey (1) sylvere lotringer (1) tariq ali (1) teacher (1) ted kaczynski (1) television (1) tent city (1) terror (1) thermidor (1) timothy leary (1) train-hopping (1) tramps (1) travel (1) trickster (1) trolling (1) tunnel dwellers (1) undercover (1) underground press (1) uprising (1) urban infrastructure (1) utopian (1) utopian communities (1) vegan (1) vermont (1) war measures act (1) warez scene (1) weather underground (1) white power skinheads (1) why? (newspaper) (1) wikileaks (1) winnipeg (1) woodstock (1) word salad (1) world church of the creator (1) yippies (1) youth culture (1) z communications (1)